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Boston City Council race this week: Nativism debate hits city council race, Tito Jackson weighs in

Former city councilor Tito Jackson has endorsed several candidates in the 2021 council race.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

This story is part of the Globe’s coverage of this year’s City Council races.

City Council hopefuls weigh in on the nativism debate in the mayoral race

Mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George drew criticism from voters and public officials alike last Thursday when she brought up her Boston roots as a crucial strength in this year’s race.

When asked by a Boston Public Radio cohost whether rival Michelle Wu’s Chicago origins should matter to voters, Essaibi George answered: “It’s relevant to me, and I think it’s relevant to a lot of voters whether or not they’re born and raised in the city.”


Twitter users, including city councilor candidates, quickly denounced Essaibi George’s response. David Halbert, an at-large councilor candidate and Ohio native, said on Twitter: “As someone not born here but who has always chosen Boston ... I look at work, not birth certificates.”

“This is why you have to be very careful with candidates who both tout the fact that their families came here as immigrants in the same breath that they talk about how they were ‘born and raised here,’” said District 6 city councilor candidate Kendra Hicks, pointing out Essaibi George’s frequent references to her parents’ Tunisian and Polish heritage. Hicks moved to Boston from the Bronx as an infant.

Tito Jackson endorses at-large and district councilor candidates

Tito Jackson, former District 7 city councilor, has weighed in on some of the at-large and district races.

Jackson, who also launched an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2017, has endorsed at-large candidates Ruthzee Louijeune and David Halbert as well as District 7 councilor candidate Tania Fernandes Anderson, according to posts on the candidates’ various Twitter accounts in the past week.

Jackson endorsed District 6 councilor candidate Kendra Hicks in early September.

Tiana Woodard is a Report for America corps member covering Black neighborhoods. She can be reached at tiana.woodard@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @tianarochon.